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[Updated] Castle Champions

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

First, second, and third impressions

Product: Castle Champions | Developer: Gamenauts | Publisher: Gamenauts | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual, RPG, Strategy | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
Castle Champions iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about. Click on the links to jump to day threeday seven.

Have you ever visited a castle? If you live in Europe, you probably have. If you've never left America, all you need to know is that they're pretty miserable places.

On nice warm sunny days they can be quite quaint, but most of the time they're gloomy and foreboding. Also, they sometimes have ghosts in them.

I'm not sure why anyone would want to be the champion of a castle, but Castle Champions may well show me the light. So I guess I'll play it for seven days and report back with my findings.

First impressions

You've got to respect a game that just jumps straight into its gameplay without so much as a "how do you do?"

Castle Champions hasn't got time to hang around - it wants you building rooms and hiring inhabitants to become soldiers as soon as possible, only pausing to let you pick a hero unit before the construction begins.

Why a hero unit? I've no idea. It wasn't explained. This is kind of exciting.

It's a good-looking builder, and although there are one too many menus they're all presented clearly. The whole thing is laid out like Tiny Tower, complete with a lift to transport visitors to different sections. On either side of the column housing the lift is a space for a different type of room. I currently have residential facilities, a bar for food, and two barracks: one for melee combatants, one for archers.

And suddenly I'm in a fight with some bad guys. Combat plays out automatically, aside from a special attack that I can call forth as soon as it's charged.

I've lost, and now I'm building again.

I've no idea what's happening, but I'm excited to see more. Tune in next Monday to see how much fun I'm having with Castle Champions after three days.

Day 3: Quite Small Castle

After a little more time with the game, it's becoming clear that this is Tiny Tower with some automated real-time combat. Which is totally fine with me: I really enjoyed Tiny Tower, and I'm not a massive fan of deep strategy games. However, I still have some unanswered questions.

Having played Castle Champions over the weekend, dipping in whenever I grabbed a free moment, I've now acquired a few more floors for my castle, and splashed out on another hero. The construction continues, but I can't seem to specify exactly what type of building I want when ordering a new room, which is a little puzzling.

IAPs explained
Crystals cost 69p/99c for ten, and are used for Orbs, which buff a hero's stats, to save time on constructions, or to unlock more workers or heroes immediately. Ten is pretty dear for what you get, though, as just a 15 percent range increase for your archers costs a whopping 15 of these suckers.

Much more useful (and value-for-money) is the 10,000 Gold for £1.49 / $1.99 option. This soft currency is used for almost everything in the game, and is vital for your continued success. 10,000 for a pound and a half seems fair.
Another big question I have is why I'm so rubbish at combat. Every few minutes you're asked to compete against an opposing team of stereotypical fantasy bad guys - minotaurs, cerberuses, and the like - but I'm currently getting my bottom handed to me.

There's a bonus for the buildings in your castle if you get a Winning Streak, but so far I've only won three out of the dozen or so battles I've fought. This means that I'm also slipping down the Amateur League, for what that's worth.

Since fights are played out for you, with minimal input into the battle aside from the special moves, it's difficult not to feel like you're being stiffed by the AI. If there was a little more communication going on I'd probably be fine with losing, but not knowing what I'm doing wrong is frustrating.

Day 7: Keep-ing me down

Castle Champions is a lot of busywork, and not a lot of getting anywhere. Where games like Tiny Tower have you adding floors in quick succession, this effort is much slower in imparting any sense that you're improving.

You're always busy restocking three levels of items; training soldiers, bowmen, mages, and more; sending people out on quests; defending yourself from attack; zipping people about on elevators; going into battles; and much more besides – but it's all for a minuscule reward.

The amount of Gold you scrape together isn't enough to be training better troops, as well as acquiring more buildings and purchasing items to make even more moolah. It's barely enough to do just one of those things.

This slows the pace of progressions right down, and if you don't think you're getting anywhere it's difficult to see why you'd bother persisting with the busywork.

Castle Champions is a lovely-looking tower-builder with some underdeveloped battling and levelling. These flaws would be forgivable if it weren't for the snails-pace of progress, which will dishearten all but the most dedicated of players.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.
[Updated] Castle Champions
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 28 March 2013
If you don't mind busy work, and just want a Tiny Tower substitute, then Castle Champions is worth a gander. Its slow pace is an issue, though, making it strictly for the patient among you
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